It was the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday of 2010. Elaine hosted a wonderful dinner and there was plenty of food remaining. After finishing the dishes, Elaine and her daughter decided to make to-go dinner plates with the remaining food and pass them out to those in need in downtown San Diego. Elaine and her daughter had experienced periods of homelessness themselves in the distant past, and it seemed like the perfect thing to do. The hearty meals were accepted with gratitude.
The next day, Elaine shared this wonderful experience her dear friend and neighbor, Jerry, and together they decided to make lunches one Sunday a month and take them to those in need. From that moment the concept for Heartfelt Helpings (formerly Loving Spoonfuls) was born.
Over the next three years, many friends and neighbors volunteered and supported Heartfelt Helpings in their journey. They helped cook, shop, donated clothing and blankets and assisted handing out meals. In December of 2013, Heartfelt Helpings received their first unsolicited cash donation. It was the spark that made them want to transform Heartfelt Helpings into a real non-profit organization.
On July 7th, Heartfelt Helpings became an official non-profit in the state of California and we began formalizing its meal service program by serving Friday Family Dinner at Monarch Schools.
In late September, Elaine and Jerry met an officer from the HOT team on one of their meal service deliveries downtown. Through personal connections with the police department, they were able to secure a meeting with Debra Ferrar - Lieutenant with the San Diego Police Department and head of the Homeless Outreach Team and many other programs supporting homeless transitional services. They were quickly educated on how it would be much more effective for both the homeless population and the surrounding community, if they partnered with the organizations that provides shelter and transitional services.
That was all Elaine and Jerry needed to hear! Heartfelt Helpings quickly adjusted their meal service program and delivery model and began reaching out to Alpha Project Neil Good Day Center and Metro Hotel, Rachael’s Shelter, Monarch Schools, PhotoCharity and other service providers to schedule ALL meal deliveries onsite at their locations. Heartfelt Helpings was now able to focus their resources where they would have the most impact!
Note: This is just the beginning of their story and there are plans to launch a Heartfelt Helpings Food Truck Work Program as soon as funding is available. Very soon they will have the opportunity to provide transitional job placement opportunities for those from the very community that they serve!
From the heart, Elaine and Jerry: “In the meantime, we are simply grateful to be a small part of the solution to hunger and homelessness. Each day we are always inspired by the countless people here in San Diego and around the world that are making a difference ‘by being the change they wish to see in the world’."
Providing Meals for those in Need
Founders Elaine Therrien and Jerry Meunier